In August Italians celebrate the 2000 year old holiday called Ferragosto, and for many that includes rice salad. Emperor Augustus decreed the first day of his eponymous month a day of rest to follow the harvest, and the Catholic Church later moved the pagan holiday to the 15th to coincide with the assumption. Insalata di riso, Italian rice salad, came along much later.
Rice was introduced to Italy in the 1500s but wasn’t grown on a large scale until the mid-1800s. Its connection to the summer holiday likely dates to Mussolini’s introduction in the late ‘20s of the “People’s Trains of Ferragosto,” cheap August train tickets to give the peninsula’s poor a chance for a vacation. The budget rail pass didn’t include the usual meal, so food that could travel for a day or two was packed for the trip. Traditionally made from a few pantry ingredients supplemented with cheese and salami, insalata di riso was perfect for the warm weather ride to the beach or mountains.
Cooking the rice means turning on the stove, but the rest of the salad’s ingredients only require opening a jar or can and a little chopping. While you can use a cooker or stovetop to steam the rice, we prefer the Italian approach of cooking it like pasta: boil some water, add the rice, and drain it when it’s done. For white rice, keep it at an active boil for 11-12 minutes; brown rice needs about 35 minutes, but for both test a few grains to make sure it’s done but not too soft.
Italian versions traditionally combine good canned tuna with cubed ham or a salami like mortadella along with a soft cheese, but you can leave either or both out for a vegetable-centric salad. And while preserved vegetables packed in oil or vinegar are classic, feel free to add whatever looks good from your garden or the farmers market.
Our classic insalata combines the cooled rice with local canned albacore, ham, and mortadella. Add cubes of Ferndale’s fior di latte, a mozzarella-like soft cheese made from cow’s milk next door in Washington State. Red and green jarred peppers from Hellenic Farms and a big handful of frozen peas go in along with capers from Pantelleria and fresh mint or parsley. Toss everything with Katz Trio red wine vinegar, plenty of extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt to taste. Buon ferragosto!
Following recent CDC recommendations, we’re making some changes to our event schedule. We’ve decided to postpone both the Cheese and Vermouth events until we can figure out a way to do them safely, and we’re moving both the Cutter Cascadia and Landmass events outside. We hope to see you there!
Join us in celebrating the release of the new vintage of Heavy Water, Cutter Cascadia’s homage to the skin-contact wines of Friuli. Winemaker Michael Garafolo will be on hand pouring tastes and explaining his process, and we’ll have tasty treats from Fulamingo, AstralPDX, and perhaps a special guest. If you’ve ever been curious about “orange wine,” this is the event for you.
Dina No Ceramics Sample Sale
Join us for legendary Portland potter Dina No’s only sale of the year! We’ll have a whole mess of seconds and production samples, and if you know No, then you know this event is not to be missed! Come early or don’t come at all… this will sell out faster than you think.
Landmass Wine Tasting
Our good friends Melaney and Malia of Landmass Wines will lead us through a tasting of their current still and sparkling releases. Known for their focus on terroir-driven wines, deft touch in the cellar, and eye-catching labels, Landmass’s wines show off the breadth of expression possible here in our own backyard. As always, Wellspent Market will whip up some tasty bites to go with, and we’ll finally learn the difference between charmant, pet-nat, and methode traditionnelle. Ooh la la!
Don’t forget to order peaches!
We’re thrilled to be offering the best peaches in Oregon in full and half cases. Our friends at Baird Family Orchards have been growing superlative fruit for over 40 years, and their stone fruits are a summer highlight.
The Oil IS ON THE WATER! I repeat, THE OIL IS ON THE WATER! Our wine importer friends have told us that their Italian shipments are taking an extra 2-4 weeks to arrive which means the oil should be here in mid September! Keep your fingers crossed. We still have a few shares left of our Olive Oil CSA! Grab one now before our container arrives…
Our Olive Oil CSA helps to support our small farm partners. It works like this: Early in the year you buy a CSA share for $100. We use the cash to pay the farmers, and when the season’s olive oil arrives here, that share is worth $120. It’s good for anything we sell at Wellspent Market, not just olive oil. Money well spent indeed!
We’ve got a lot of fun stuff happening this summer, including new product drops, wine tastings, and even a few exciting collaborations in the works. We want to get as many folks involved as possible, and in an effort to grow our community we’re offering you a 10% discount when you get a friend to sign up for our newsletter.